A Military Family Builds Community: 52 Dinners, 52 Guests

A January dinner, Sen. Susan Collins (second from left) visits with Sarah Smiley and her sons Owen, Lindell and Ford, one of 52 planned during the yearlong deployment.

Imagine inviting someone different into your home every week for a year – a school teacher – a cancer survivor – a senator – a police chief – University of Maine Hockey team members.

That’s how the Smiley family is marking the year-long deployment of their husband and dad,  Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Smiley, with 52 dinners, 52 guests.

The Smiley family has made a video and the U.S. Navy made it public through Twitter:

Sarah Smiley’s website has a fantastic page of reader submitted  tips for dealing with deployment:

  • A Lollipop Tree: We went to the craft store and bought a Styrofoam globe, a stick and a flower pot with the green arrangement foam. Then we put a small lollipop in the globe for each day my husband would be gone (6 months is a lot of lollipops) and every night my son could take one out.
  • Picture This: When my husband went on deployment the first time, we took pictures of him in all of his favorite spots in the house. The day he left I placed all of his pictures in their designated areas so that I would never feel like he was gone.
  • Counting Trash: The first time my husband was deployed we hadn’t yet had our daughter. Instead of dwelling on the number of days he was going to be gone, I counted the number of times I had to take the garbage out. It sounds weird but starting at 26 instead of 180 really worked nicely.

Sarah Smiley is a syndicated columnist, author, and military wife. Sarah and her husband Dustin have three children: Ford (10), Owen (8) and Lindell (4). Dustin is a Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy. They live in Maine.

Military Training Video: Chinese Soldiers and a Live Grenade

Six soldiers – identified as part of a Chinese military training exercise – practice passing a live grenade, disposing of it and then taking cover. It’s a 21 second Youtube video that appears to be going viral.


Panetta Condems Actions, Calls Karzai About Video

Leon E. Panetta appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee during confirmation hearings June 9, 2011. (Defense Department photo)

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has released a statement Thursday strongly condemning the apparent actions of four Marines who appear to be urinating on the bodies of three dead Afghan enemy combatants.

In the statement, Panetta said he has seen the footage and finds the behavior depicted in it “utterly deplorable.”

“I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Panetta said. “I have ordered the Marine Corps and ISAF commander [Marine Corps] Gen. John Allen to immediately and fully investigate the incident. This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards or values our armed forces are sworn to uphold. Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent.”

Additionally, the Pentagon press secretary said Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the video Thursday.

“The secretary expressed his view that the conduct depicted in the footage is utterly deplorable, and that it does not reflect the standards or values American troops are sworn to uphold,” George Little said. “The secretary also noted in the conversation that he has ordered that the video be immediately and fully investigated.”

You can read the full press release HERE.

A Soldier’s Silent Night Video

A video titled, A Soldier’s Silent Night, on YouTube appears to be going viral. It was posted just a week ago, Dec. 14, 2011, and already has more than 776,000 views.

US Government Releases Videos of Bin Laden

The Pentagon has released videos of Osama Bin Laden that were seized when U.S. Navy Seals raided his compound earlier this week and killed the al-Qaida leader.

A link to one of the videos showing Bin Laden watching TV is here.

In addition to the government released videos, ABC News has exclusive video from inside the compound here.

And since I’m posting videos, I will repost the video of Robert Bergdahl asking the Taliban to return his son, Army PFC Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured almost two years ago in Afghanistan and is being held captive in Pakistan.

I posted this late yesterday and fear not many have viewed it. The YouTube video had about 100 hits when I found it. That count is only up to just over 5,000.

Mr. Bergdahl’s video plea is worth watching to see the dignity of a father who shows respect and restraint even when addressing the men holding his son. Robert Bergdahl may your words be heard.

A FATHER’S PLEA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJmmZQ3byKQ

Again, my apology that I’ve yet to resolve the video embedding issue. But the link will take you to YouTube.

Father Ends Silence, Asks Taliban to Return His Son

My apology that the video embedded feature does not seem to be working. Please click on the links and the YouTube video should appear. Thank you.

After almost two years, Robert Bergdahl is speaking up and directly asking the Taliban to return his son.

Army PFC Bowe Bergdahl was captured June 2009 in Afghanistan and then transfered to Pakistan. Robert Bergdahl also asks for the cooperation of the Pakistan Army.

Here is the video Mr. Bergdahl of Bailey, Idaho posted on YouTube with the plea:


The Taliban also has released a videos of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl after his capture. Here is the first video of Bergdahl being questioned in July 2009:


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